LACONIA — With a week's vacation after six weeks in Washington, First District Congressman Republican Frank Guinta of Manchester chose to spend yesterday in the city where he joined the guests on "the Advocates," the radio talk show hosted by Niel Young, met privately with city officials, held an invitation-only panel discussion and hosted a town hall-style meeting at Lakes Region Community College.
The town hall meeting drew a sparse crowd of half-a-dozen local Republican loyalists, including two of the 18 Republican State Representatives from Belknap County —George Hurt of Gilford and Frank Tilton of Laconia — along with Alan Glassman of Barnstead, the chairman of the Belknap County Republican Committee, who served as moderator.
In his introductory remarks, Guinta, who returned to Congress in 2014 after being ousted after one term in 2012, struck a more moderate note than the militant tone that marked his first term. He said he wanted to focus on bipartisan issues, noting that despite the headlines in the media 80 percent of the legislation enacted in Congress enjoys support from both sides of the aisle.
"We're here to govern," Guinta said, adding that this requires "a willingness to find common ground." As examples, he offered legislation to restore the 40-hour work week to dissuade employers from trimming hours to escape the Affordable Care Act, and to construct the Keystone pipeline, which he said would generate jobs, promote energy independence and boost exports.
Asked about the future of legislation to restrict abortion that was scuttled when it ran afoul of women in the Republican congressional caucus, Guinta said only that it has been referred to committee and may be amended and put to a vote.
Guinta spoke of the Affordable Care Act — not Obamacare — signaling his temperate tone. When Don Ewing of Meredith declared "Obamacare must be repealed," he replied that instead, congressional committees have been asked to offer amendments and alternatives to the law and that he was "looking forward to a competitive health care system."
At the same time, Guinta touted his bill to repeal the so-called "Cadillac Tax," the coming (2018) 40-percent levy on individual health insurance plans costing more than $10,200 and family health insurance plans costing more than $27,400. He said it would impact municipalities, including Manchester where he served as mayor which would be liable for $5 million or $6 million in taxes, and businesses with more than 50 employees. He feared that the effect in the private sector would be reduced benefits, lay offs and higher employee contributions. "most people are taxed enough," he remarked. "It doesn't seem fair to me."
The crisis in the Middle East, Guinta said, "has gotten worse with the inaction or limited action" of the Obama Administration. He expected Congress to amend the president's request for "authorization for use of military force," which he described as overdue, and said there must be "a real plan" that engages states in the region led and equipped by America.
Guinta insisted the time has come "to put politics aside and put people first" and declared "I never want to be in lock step with a party. I want to be in lock step with the people I represent."
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